Sunday, February 22, 2015

Happy February 21st

We have this silly idea here in on this little planet of ours that only some days should be celebrated, while other days should be, I don't know. . . endured? Gotten through? Forgotten about? We all do it; yearn for the weekend, yearn for spring bring, summer break, thanksgiving break, christmas break - and it's not just us teachers.

But why don't we celebrate each and every blessed day that we are given here on this bitty orb of ours? Not enough money? Not enough time? Not enough energy? I don't know. I've vowed before to live every single day like it's my last, and I've fallen of that track beaten down with troubles, worries, and strife. So much strife. But I focus on this simple fact: we are not guaranteed a tomorrow. So, today? I celebrate. I celebrate the simple fact that I'm alive. I have family who loves me. I have friends who love me. I have a job I'm good at and I love. I have my health, and a strong mind and body. I have a God who loves me (and the universe) completely and wholly without any strings attached. I have so very, very much. I don't need a calendar to tell me what day's are worth celebrating, and I don't need a cultural agenda to tell me how to celebrate.

I can celebrate the day by just living it up to the very fullest I can, laughing as much as I can. Giving as much as I can. Loving as much as I can. Being outside in nature soaking in all the beauty I can. That's a day celebrated.

February 21st was a particularly good celebration this year. I mean, we squeezed the bejeezus out of the day. China Beach in San Fransisco stole my heart. Maybe it was the rocks to climb on, the beach, and the stunning views. Or maybe it was that I spent it with my girls and my beloved aunt while we played in the water, climbed the rocks, and snuggled together for warmth. Or maybe. . . maybe it was all of that.

I love that she wanted me to get a picture of herself in the water with her cane. Pain isn't going to keep her down. No way, no how. (Not for long anyway)

ok - so it was dark, and I have a bad iPhone camera, and this is a terribly blurry shot *sigh* my camera died seconds after taking this - but despite it's many, many flaws -  I somehow still love the picture. It captures a moment of complete abandon as the ocean waves hit, and it reminds me of the glow in my heart as the camera snapped this shot. 
Lean In
Embrace the beauty of life
Flaws and all

Shine a little light on everything around you. 

We ended the day with a fancy Italian dinner that the girls begged for. But how can you not end a day in San Francisco without a fancy dinner? It shouldn't be done. 

February 22nd will be celebrated with a pancake breakfast with dear family, driving down The Five and soaking in the beauty of the landscape around us as we head back home, writing from the heart, and . . . 

How will you celebrate today?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sprouting Wings While Snow Tubing

February sounds like a grand time to take field trip to the snow, doesn't it?
Well, it did to me.
So, we planned a trip to the snow. Surely it would snow in the mountains before February, right? Right?!?
The mountains here have no snow. Not 'real' snow, anyway.

But man-made snow is still snow, right? 

Yup! Still works for tubing.

This little one wasn't so convinced that tubing was 'the thing' for her. Cried about it being too scary for quite awhile. 
Understandable. The unknown is a terribly scary place to go. Especially when it's so far to go down. 
Somehow I convinced her to try . . . that maybe this thing that she was terrified of wasn't as scary as she thought it would be. 

And off she went! Sprouted wings and just flew. The first ride down hooked her. She loved every minute of it. Picked up her tube like she'd been doing it her whole life and hiked that tube to the top of the hill herself over. And over. And over. 
Independence, baby. 
Isn't it great when the things we are so terribly afraid of turn out to the 'best things ever'? 

An inch of courage is all you need to let go. 
An inch of snow is all you need to fly. 
Look at me flying. 
It feel's like I could go to Berlin, Tokyo, or Jamaica . . .Paris, Rome to Rio*

Grateful for awesome co-workers/friends and the sunshine. 
Although, I could have done with a little more snow and little less sunshine, but beggar's can't be choosers, right? 

Best quote overheard from the day "This is just like the beach!" 
Only in southern California would a snow trip be likened to being exactly like the beach. 
Though, swimsuits might have been better attire than the sweltering snowsuits we pretended we needed, so there is that. 

*P.S. Thanks, Ed Sheehan, for the lyrics I stole - ahem - borrowed. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Life Is Good Despite What You Hear

My sweet girls,

You will hear from many people that the world is a terrible place. That we are in 'the end times,' that the world has never been worse than it has been today.

It's true that there are bad things happening in the world today. We cannot deny or ignore that fact. We cannot turn away from the pain and troubles that we are facing and pretend they are not there. That would serve no purpose. We must help when we see people in need. We must act when we might want sit back and do nothing. We must love when others hate. We must give when others take. We must forgive when others harbor hate.

Let me remind you of this fact: The world is good. It is full of wonderful people who also want to help and who want to make a difference. Who want to love like they've never loved before, in spite of the pain, hurt, and anger. They want to give, and give, and give.

I've seen so many examples of just how good people are in this world lately, while at the same time I've heard from others who say 'the world is ending now! Everything is terrible. Everything is falling apart.'

If we live in the 'everything is terrible, and everything is falling apart' mindset, that leaves us open to despair and apathy. If the world is ending, everything is terrible, and Jesus is coming any moment - it can lead us to think 'what point is there in doing anything good, because it's all terrible anyway,' let's hide in our corner and protect ourselves.

Don't buy into it, my sweet girls.

Believe in the good in the world. Live and breathe all the beauty that you can. Love like you'll never get hurt. But you will get hurt. Allow yourself to get hurt. Feel pain, and sorrow. Really feel it. Then grow from under it, and step out stronger, yet more loving, gentle, forgiving and understanding. Forgive around every corner, but don't let people take advantage of this goodness, and stomp all over you. Stand up to injustice and things that aren't right.  Find the light in the darkness, find the good in the bad. Look for places where you can give, help, and show the world that it is not all bad. Don't let the bad outweigh the good. 

My daughters, despite the wars and the inequality in this world between races, genders, and so many different types of people. Despite the hate that is spewed from some people onto others. Despite the things that make us shudder inside - for every instance of hate, there are people who are good, loving, and kind. Latch onto those people. Seek out those people.

And the people that aren't? The one's that are made of rough edges, that aren't always kind, good, and true? Love those people anyway. Shine your light of love upon them as if without your light they would disappear. Because maybe they would. Who knows what would happen if they didn't have people like you to shine the light onto the dark and twisty road in front of them?

Shine. Shine. Shine.

Never stop shining and loving, giving and helping, because despite what you may hear about how things will never get better, and it's only getting worse - don't give up.  This world that God gave to us is precious and good, full of beauty, love, and hope. So much hope.

And if you find times and places where the world is not these things that I say they are? Keep searching for that beauty, goodness, and love. I guarantee you'll find it because it'll be inside you.

Loving you more than tongue can tell,


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Apartment Quirks

One of the fun things about living in an apartment has been all the fun little quirks that come with it.

Like the huge crack in the front door that seems to be getting bigger and bigger with each day. Light shouldn't shine through a solid wood door. But our cracked door shines.

Like the fact that the person who lived here before us must have had some serious anger management issues because all the doors in the apartment have signs of being kicked and slammed.

Like the shower nobs that have no clear indication of where to go for hot and cold. There are two nobs. One spins to turn the water on and one spins  to 'supposedly' get hot and cold. I can spin and spin those nobs, right left, it doesn't matter. I swear there must be some secret code, some undisclosed number of times they need to be spun to get tot he elusive hot water. Maybe three times for the first nob and two on the second? I've tried counting. I've tried keeping track, but there's no rhyme or reason. Sometimes it can be burning hot water at one specific spot in the circle, and then it gets budged a fraction of a inch and it turns to freezing cold water. It's a bit temperamental. I've given up hope of having a relaxing shower where I'm not dancing in and out of hot and cold water, or trying to break 'the code' to get the perfect temperature of water as I race to get ready for work.

Like the neighbors who open and close their garage door about a hundred times a day because they have family on the other side of the apartment complex, and it's faster to go through the garage than around the buildings. The sound reverberating through the apartment each and every time.

Like the oven that doesn't have nobs with temperature settings on it anymore. Want to bake a cake at 350 degrees? Not at our place. We can only guess the temperature and hope it's close enough.

Like not being able to get the couch up through the front door when we moved in because of how tight the squeeze was with the stairs, and the roof, and the wall right at the end of our entryway. We ended up having to bring it up through the front window. . .

(Brandon and Wayne lifting the couch into place)
Our apartment is above, the garage beneath. It's a nice little setup for our needs. 

But the best apartment quirk of all is little Adventist church that our looking room window overlooks, and the friendly member who came over and invited our girls to join their Adventurers group as they wistfully sat on our steps and watched the other kids play and sing.

Quirks and all, I love these kicked in, cracking walls. I'll take them all, tuck them into my memories, and savor them later as we go down memory lane in years to come about the apartment that we once lived in that . . .


P.S. I really didn't do anything to get that couch into the apartment, as it may at first appear in the picture. I simply stood there and steadied the ladder and said my last goodbyes to my children and family before the couch miraculously found it's way into the apartment instead of on top of my head. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mt. San Antonio Falls Hike

Historically, MLK weekend has always been a snow trip weekend for our family. Unfortunately, we were unable to go last year. Grandma had just broken her hip, and needed constant care. So, today we decided that it was high time that we went out on our annual 'let's chase the snow' trip.
Someone was a little excited to put on her winter hat and scarf. 

Ready to head out and chase after that elusive snow. 
(Cat in the Hat will appear in many of these photo's. Eleanor is the VIP in our class this week, and we have taken him with us to share with the class our Adventures with him this weekend. 
She's been dying for this opportunity all year, and is a little excited about it - if you can't tell. )

It is serious business, this snow finding thing. 
The hunt is on! 

We brazenly ignored the 'little' fact that the mountains around us are sorely lacking in the snow department. We figured we'd head up to Mt. Baldy Snow Tubing area, as their website promises snow. 

We arrived with great expectation. The parking lot and surrounding area completely dry. No snow anywhere. Not unless you want to pay $150 for a family of four to take a lift to the very top of the mountain where they have the snow tubing area. Probably a man made snow area by the looks of it, and the fact we've had so little rain and cold weather this 'winter.'

So. . . we turned around and decided to just make a hiking trip of it. We quickly found an area packed with cars, and a sign promising a waterfall ahead. Brilliant. Who doesn't love a good waterfall hike? And with that many cars there? We knew there must be something good. We left our snow clothes and play equipment in the car, grabbed our picnic lunch, and headed out for a hike.

Snow here? Nope. No snow here. 

Who needs snow? This life is beautiful anyway! 

But - hark!? What is that we spy covered in the blackest of dirt?

We will get you, snow! You are mine! We will reveal your secret to the world. 

Why, yes, it is hidden treasure. Snow, attempting to disguise itself as dirt. But we weren't fooled.

Precious snow.

We left behind our little treasure to find the falls. And how can a hike be a hike without 'the perfect' walking stick? Once found, the hike is on!

Let's do this!

Loving the easy paved path for the girls to walk on

Wait? What's that?! A giant pile of snow?!!? And the falls? 
But it looked like a little bit more of a hike and we were tired. And hungry. Time for lunch. 

Mmmm. Cheese and stripple sandwiches. 

Our view from our lunch spot. 

Ready to keep hiking down to the falls - cross a little river . . . 

Ok, fine - a trickling brook. 

Lots of dogs on this hike, which made Annabelle endlessly happy. 

Goodbye, walking stick. It was nice knowing you. 
Hello, icy little snowman. 

See that? Pure joy. These are the moments I live for. 

Beautiful. Just beautiful. 


Tripped and fell in the snow. Time for a selfie, of course. :-p 

Wet bum!

And . . . then they were done. Too cold for these littles. 

See that face? I can practically hear her teeth chattering. 

But the falls were pretty nice to sit next to in the warm sunshine and soak up the warmth and the peaceful sounds of water splashing on rock. 

Hello from San Antonio Falls. If you haven't come here yet, I highly recommend it. Great hike for kids. Quick, easy, and totally beautiful. A perfect combination. 

Now, there is one little spot where it gets a little tricky. It is much steeper than it looks here. My heart lurched a few times, but the girls are good hikers. I knew I had nothing to worry about (I say as I hovered nearby). 

Alas, it's time to go home. 

There is so much beauty in this world. It takes my breath away.

Sure, the girls cried about cold hands and wet clothes since we left all our snow gear back in the car, but it was totally worth it. They've already forgotten the discomfort and tears.
Kids are pretty resilient like that.

Can't wait to find the next spot to explore, the next hill to climb, or seascape to catch.